POLITICS

Maori denied the right to vote

Wednesday 5 November 2008, 6:35PM
By Hone Harawira
175 views


"The most basic of democratic rights is the right to vote – and it is being denied to Maori," said Te Tai Tokerau Maori Party MP, Hone Harawira.

"Maori have been voting since 1867, but it seems that in 2008, the Electoral Commission’s attitude to Maori being denied the opportunity is ‘oh well, too bad, how sad, better luck next time’.

“Well, I don’t agree. I refuse to accept that attitude and I want something done about it and done now, for this election,” said Harawira. “I want the Chief Electoral Officer to get his A into G and sort the problem out, and I want the Prime Minister to make sure he does.”

"I am hearing concerns from Maori voters all round the country that they applied to come on to the Maori roll, but that they are still registered on the General Roll.

“One voter in my electorate, Margaret Sullivan, told me that during the Maori Electoral Option, she applied to change back from the General to the Maori roll. My staff followed up the issue and was advised by the Chief Electoral Officer that although he accepted that the fault lay with the Electoral Commission, he would not allow Ms Sullivan the right to cast a special vote on Saturday.

"At the time, Ms Sullivan recalls other Maori lining behind her to change their preference from the general roll to the Maori roll. And over the last couple of days I have been hearing concerns from Maori voters all round the country that they also applied to come on to the Maori roll, but that they are still registered on the General Roll.

“Something stinks here, and I want an immediate apology to Ms Sullivan, and steps taken to enable her to vote. I also want all Maori who claim they are supposed to be on the Maori roll to be given the right to vote and the Electoral Commission to sort things out after the election.

“The Electoral Commission can take all the time it wants to sort the problem out, but I don’t want any Maori denied the right to vote on Saturday because somebody screwed up in Wellington.